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EPA Takes Steps to Reduce Methane Emissions from Landfills

EPA Takes Steps to Reduce Methane Emissions from Landfills

Capturing methane emissions from landfills key to reducing climate warming

Early this year, the US Environmental Protection Agency implemented a rule introduced in 2016 by the Obama administration that lowers the threshold at which landfills are required to install methane collection systems. The implementation of the rule will require an additional 93 landfills across the country to install landfill gas collection systems and will help to curb methane emissions from landfill sites. Once in effect, the rule will curb methane emissions from landfills in the US by roughly 7%.

[caption id="attachment_2287" align="aligncenter" width="1517"]Capturing methane emissions from landfills Credit: EPA[/caption]

The EPA has also notified around 40 states across the country that collectively contain roughly 1,600 landfill sites that don’t have any agency-approved LFG capture plans in place that they need to get an EPA-approved LFG capture plan or the EPA would draw up and enforce a plan for them.

This new move by the EPA will help to reduce methane emissions from landfills — one of the largest human sources of this potent greenhouse gas both in the US and globally.

Will curbing emissions from landfills help the climate?

Yet many climate scientists and activists feel this is not enough to sufficiently reduce climate warming, and that more needs to be done. Climate activists believe the EPA should have made the emission threshold even lower, which would have required smaller landfill sites to install landfill gas capture systems to curb their methane emissions.

States such as Maryland are introducing their own landfill methane regulations to curb emissions. But if Maryland adopts the EPA landfill rule it would apply to just 10% (four out of forty) of the state’s methane-producing landfills.

Composting and in waste-to-energy projects

The recent methane assessment by the United Nations takes things a step further by calling for putting an end to disposing of organic waste such as paper and food scraps in landfills, and rather sending this waste to facilities that either compost it or use it as feedstock in biodigesters where methane is captured more efficiently and used as a source of energy.

Featured Image by Z22, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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